Volunteers wait to be administered the new Chinese-made vaccine for the coronavirus at a hospital in Islamabad. AFP
Thousands of volunteers are flocking to research hospitals across Pakistan to join final-stage clinical trials of a Chinese-made vaccine for the coronavirus.
It is the first time Pakistan has participated in such a trial, which comes amid a string of positive vaccine announcements by Western pharmaceutical companies this month.
Volunteers wait to be administered the new Chinese-made vaccine at a hospital. AFP
The vaccine is being developed by CanSinoBio and the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology China.
"I have volunteered myself for a noble cause that will help humanity," said a volunteer at Islamabad's Al Shifa Hospital, where hundreds of participants are being paid about $50 for their trouble.
Others should "step forward and take part in this noble cause which will save lives," he added.
For years, China has focused much of its attention in Pakistan on mammoth development projects, bankrolling the construction of roads, power plants and a strategic port.
Beijing has now tapped one of its closest allies to participate in the vaccine trials, despite Pakistan's chequered history with inoculation campaigns.
Doctor Ejaz Ahmad Khan speaks during the interview. AFP
"We hope to have some findings ready about the accuracy and efficacy of the vaccine in two to three months," Ejaz Ahmad Khan, the principal researcher overseeing the trial in Pakistan, said.
Officials said Pakistan has already inoculated about 7,000 of the 10,000 participants expected to receive a jab.
India, which has reported the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the world after the United States, has so far vaccinated more than 12 million health and front-line workers.
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